Here's the little thingiebob about it:
Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay presents nearly 100 magnificent works by the famous masters who called France their home during the mid- to late-19th century and from whose midst arose one of the most original and recognizable of all artistic styles, Impressionism. The exhibition begins with paintings by the great academic artist Bouguereau and the arch-Realist Courbet, and includes American expatriate Whistler’s Arrangement in Gray and Black, known to many as “Whistler’s Mother.” Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Sisley are showcased with works dating from the 1860s through 1880s, along with a selection of Degas’ paintings that depict images of the ballet, the racetrack, and life in the Belle Époque.It's a fantastic exhibit, and as always happens when I see art live and in person that I've only been seeing second-hand all my life, I was profoundly struck and emotional about the difference between seeing a copy of a print---postcard or book-size---and seeing the real, original thing. I remember during my first trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art stumbling upon a room full of Van Gogh's and my tear ducts instantly filling before I even had a chance to think about it. It was crazy. You'd think that with our fancy technology, our ability to make nearly identical copies of almost anything, it wouldn't much matter. But it does. You're looking at the canvas touched by the hands of the creator, labored over and looked at for generations, all over the world. It's pretty cool.
Through the exhibit, I also learned a little about the Paris Salon, and what a battle the impressionists had getting acceptance for their style and vision. Next to several of the most beautiful paintings by people like Cezanne and Manet, the placard noted, "This piece was repeatedly rejected by the Salon." Rejected! Cezanne! Just goes to show ya.
A few of the paintings particularly moved me, including Cezanne's The Bridge at Maincy and Monet's The Magpie. The one I stared at longest, though, was Jules Breton's The Gleaner (above). In person, it's huge. The subject is at least life-sized and her expression and body language are so powerful. Do you have favorite paintings? Have you ever had the chance to see your favorite painting in person?